There are approximately 147 million people in the world that suffer from alopecia. It is quite a small percentage compared to the human population, and while that makes it an uncommon condition, it still affects a good number of people. Surprisingly, very few people really know what alopecia is, what causes it, and the emotional impact it can have on someone who has it. In this article, we can teach you more about the condition.
What is Alopecia?
Alopecia is an autoimmune condition and can be further classified as a chronic inflammatory disease. This means that the immune system is tricked into believing that your hair follicles are foreign bodies that are attacking you, and so the immune system eliminates them. As a result, your hair falls out and leaves you either completely or partially bald. There are three main types:
- Alopecia areata. Patchiness on the head.
- Alopecia totalis. Total loss of hair on the head. No patchiness.
- Alopecia universalis. Total loss of hair across the entire body. Including eyelashes and brows.
The good news is that alopecia is a typically painless condition. The only issues are that bald areas can become red and irritated, and if you lose your lashes and brows, it is easier for debris to get into the eyes and irritate them.
What Causes it and Who is Affected?
Alopecia can affect men and women alike, and also occurs at any age. Therefore, adults and children can both end up contracting the condition. What causes alopecia though? Unfortunately, there is no solid evidence for the exact cause of alopecia, but it has been narrowed down to a few potentials that seem recurring in those who have it:
- Environment (stress)
- Combination of the above
- Medications (for conditions like epilepsy)
The Emotional Impact
Losing your hair can be incredibly difficult to go through at any age, although studies have shown children under six tend to have a better time dealing with it. Regardless, the emotional impact can be quite severe, and many people with alopecia have felt the following:
- Avoiding going outside so that they are not seen
- Avoiding exercise due to being seen and lack of self-worth
- Over or under eating
- Not seeing a doctor for any illness
- Poor performance at work and lack of motivation
- Feelings of depression and anxiety
- Feelings of envy and jealousy towards those that do have hair
It can be really difficult to overcome any of these feelings, and it is not something that will be fixed overnight. While it may feel like an impossible challenge is ahead, there are ways to make things easier for yourself. One of the best things you can do is find a therapist that you can talk to about what you are going through and the way it makes you feel.
This can lead to you learning better coping mechanisms, as well as coming to terms with the fact you have alopecia. Similarly, some found comfort in joining support groups for the condition as it allowed them to talk with others who were going through it and build strong friendships and support networks.
Hopefully, this article has been able to teach you more about alopecia and its impact on daily life – giving you a better understanding of those who are going through it. If you have alopecia, then we hope it has given you some comfort and knowledge about what you are facing. However, if you are interested in learning more about alopecia, you can read our detailed and extensive guide.